Ayodele Osa Foster-McCray

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stanford U.

Grant number

Gr. 10504

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Foster-McCray, Ayodele (Stanford U.) "Engendering Crisis: Living and Thinking in the Age of Black Maternal Mortality"

The highly publicized near-death experiences of two Black celebrities and generally rising instances of childbirth-related death among African American women have prompted policymakers, epidemiologists, and journalists to declare a 21st century African American maternal mortality epidemic. Black women living amidst this epidemic have noted the stress mortality discourse produces, especially alongside other recent and/or longstanding racialized and gendered violence, including police brutality, worsening poverty, and anti-abortion legislation. This ethnographic study asks how health and care are imagined and instated by diverse parties in a landscape inscribed both by a recently defined statistical concern and long histories of catastrophic violence in the form of racialized chattel slavery and its legacies. I focus on the lived experiences of invested actors, particularly physicians, midwives, doulas, and Black mothers working and coping in the wake of a Black maternal health crisis. I specifically analyze disparate ways individuals and communities negotiate crisis frames and realities. With a focus on how socialities are worked through and care is negotiated in clinical sites in Georgia, the U.S. state with the highest maternal mortality rate, my project seeks to generate a robust anthropological analysis of Blackness, gender, medicine, and public health discourse in a contemporary epoch of emergency.